Stretching For the Long Run
Written by: Kyle Babicky, Certified Arborist WI-0889A
Several of the tasks we perform in arboriculture are athletic feats. Climbing trees, dragging brush or hoses, and other daily tasks all take a certain level of strength, endurance, agility, and flexibility. As athletes, it is important to take the proper steps to prepare our bodies for the tasks at hand. Performing tree work without proper preparation can result in injuries that could otherwise be avoided. In athletics, participants have a routine for warming up and stretching as a way to boost performance, minimize injuries, and extend their careers. It is in our best interest as arborists to follow this blueprint so that we can also reap the benefits of proper preparation.
There are several reasons why it would be easy to skip these preparation steps. For many arborists, a warm-up routine isn’t a habit like all of our other pre-work tasks are. At work, we don’t have the direction from a trainer or head coach, nor do we have advanced education in physical wellness. So it becomes difficult to know how we should be warming up and stretching. As a result, it can be tempting to just skip preparation and get to work.
At Wachtel Tree Science, we decided that the importance of preparing our bodies for tree work is worth overcoming these obstacles, and to make it part of the daily routine to warm-up and stretch. In order be successful, the program needed structure to ensure it would be performed daily and correctly. It took research and athletic experience from a few of our arborists to develop a list of stretches to ensure a full-body routine. Our program also incorporates warming up the muscles prior to stretching. Everyone at Wachtel received a printed list of these exercises and stretches. A couple arborists also created a video of the routine for us to access on our mobile phones whenever needed.
It took a few weeks for the routine to become part of our daily habits, but our arborists are now performing the stretches daily. The routine is usually performed after the initial walk-around of the property while discussing the work plan. There has been a lot of positive feedback in regards to the program. Several arborists have mentioned that they feel a boost in their productivity as a result of the increased energy and limberness they feel from proper preparation.
Over time, daily stretching enhances our overall athletic ability. The increased range of motion and blood flow also decreases susceptibility to injury. When properly warmed up and stretched, the body feels more comfortable day after day, as opposed to feeling drained by the end of the week. The continuous benefits provided from a daily warm up and stretching program are more than worth the few minutes taken to execute, and we will thank ourselves in the long run.